Connecticut Reduces Suspension Rate

Last Updated: July 23, 2010

This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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Advocacy groups in Connecticut are praising the state’s schools for reducing the number of exclusionary discipline actions, even before a state law limiting conditions under which students can be suspended went into effect on July 1. The law was passed in 2007 but its implementation was delayed until this year after some education groups objected that it would be too expensive for schools to follow.

The new law limits suspensions to two conditions. Students may be suspended if the local district determines they pose a danger to persons or property or they disrupt the education process. And, students may be suspended if they have a history of discipline problems that would have resulted in suspension or expulsion and the school can document it has already used non-exclusionary discipline measures, including positive behavior support strategies, to address the problem.

Connecticut Voices for Children (CTVFC) had been reporting on and publicizing Connecticut’s high out-of-school suspension rates. In 2006–2007, Connecticut students lost more than 250,000 school days due to out-of-school suspensions.

CTVFC also released two reports on the subject. Missing Out: Suspending Student from Connecticut Schools (2008) found disproportionate rates of suspension, with African-American students four times and Latino students three times more likely than white students to be suspended; students in special education were twice as likely to be suspended as regular education students. Teaching Discipline: A Toolkit for Educators on Positive Alternatives to Out-Of-School Suspensions, documents strategies schools used to reduce the number of suspensions.

Already, out-of-school suspension rates have dropped from 7.1% in 2006–2007 to 5.1% in 2008–2009. Advocates credit statewide publicity for the falling rates.

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Read more from the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.